Celebrating 10 Years of PHAB Accreditation with the First Cohort

This entry is part 38 of 42 in the series Focus on Accreditation and Innovation

Highlights from the first cohort of 11 health departments receiving PHAB accreditation in 2013.

PHAB accredited its first cohort of 11 health departments in February 2013. To date, the entire first cohort has maintained their accreditation. Each health department decided to pursue accreditation for different reasons, but they all agree that accreditation is critical to doing their best work as a health department. Health departments in the first cohort demonstrated a commitment to quality improvement and performance management and showcased promising practices in the areas of workforce development, collaboration and partnerships, and equity and inclusion.

Credibility and Readiness

Accreditation helped the Franklin County Health Department and Washington State Department of Health (WSDOH) secure sustained funding for their health departments by identifying areas needing improvement and increasing readiness to meet national standards. The WSDOH believes “PHAB accreditation demonstrates accountability and credibility to the community, partners, and decision-makers.” The increased accountability and credibility allowed for the Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department to attract more highly qualified candidates, which resulted in hiring their new District Director of Health.

Collaboration and Partnerships

Collaboration with external partners and community organizations significantly increased the ability of health departments like Comanche County Health Department to serve their community. Their advice to other health departments seeking accreditation is to invest in partnerships and truly engage leadership and staff in the process. The Three Rivers District Health Department collaborated with Kentucky state policymakers to draft legislation that became House Bill 129, which resulted in public health transformation becoming state law in 2020. In 2021, Three Rivers became part of a transformation project team to manage the statewide planning initiative. They also won the NACCHO Model Practice Award for their quality improvement staff training.

Quality Improvement and Performance Management

Quality improvement, workforce development, and performance management are three areas that every health department dramatically improved and placed at the forefront of their planning and practice. All health departments in the cohort implemented staff training, software systems, documentation processes, and more to increase efficiency and help formalize processes, practices, and policies.

  • Oklahoma City-County Health Department has designated Quality Improvement champions to help drive the culture of Quality Improvement within the agency.
  • The Public Health Authority of Cabarrus County (CHA) implemented Project Management software. CHA trained leadership, supervisors, and all staff on the concept of Results Based Accountability and how to select performance measures and population indicators, which put CHA ahead of the curve among local Health Departments in North Carolina.
  • The Livingston County Health Department’s comprehensive orientation process helped build their workforce capacity, competence, and integrity regarding core public health concepts such as cultural competency, health equity, and trauma informed care.
Equity and Inclusion

Equity and inclusion are also a major focus for the cohort, and each department has made great strides in delivering services in an equitable and inclusive way. For example, CHA implemented a “Racism is a Public Health Crisis” Proclamation in 2020.

The Oklahoma State Health Department’s advice sums up the importance of accreditation, “Keep the people you serve in mind.” The OSDH believes accreditation is “so much more than achieving a seal every five years; it serves a much bigger purpose toward continuous quality improvement efforts to better serve the people of your jurisdiction. The process really does work.”

You can read all the stories from the Health Departments here.

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Author Profile

Jocelyn Feaster
Jocelyn Feaster is a Program Assistant at the Public Health Accreditation Board. In this role, she provides administrative, logistical, and strategic communications support to the Communications and Public Affairs team. Prior to joining PHAB, Jocelyn held roles as a Legal Assistant at Sivaraman Immigration Law, assisting paralegals and attorneys in facilitating the workload and efficiency of the legal team, and as a Field Organizer for the U.S. Senate Cheri Beasley campaign, recruiting and training volunteers in Durham County. She holds an undergraduate degree in political science with a minor in population health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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